“Dark—dark night!” he said again.
She said nothing. They rode into the plain. When they were there he said:
“Domini, do you understand—do you realise?”
“What, Boris?” she asked quietly.
“All that we are leaving to-day?”
“Yes, I understand.”
“Are we—are we leaving it for ever?”
“We must not think of that.”
“How can we help it? What else can we think of? Can one govern the mind?”
“Surely, if we can govern the heart.”
“Sometimes,” he said, “sometimes I wonder——”
He looked at her. Something in her face made it impossible for him to go on, to say what he had been going to say. But she understood the unfinished sentence.
“If you can wonder, Boris,” she said, “you don’t know me, you don’t know me at all!”
“Domini,” he said, “I don’t wonder. But sometimes I understand your strength, and sometimes it seems to me scarcely human, scarcely the strength of a woman.”
She lifted her whip and pointed to the dark shadow far away.
“I can just see the tower,” she said. “Can’t you?”
“I will not look,” he said. “I cannot. If you can, you are stronger than I. When I remember that it was on that tower you first spoke to me—oh, Domini, if we could only go back! It is in our power. We have only to draw a rein and—and—”
“I look at the tower,” she said, “as once I looked at the desert. It calls us, the shadow of the palm trees calls us, as once the desert did.”
“But the voice—what a different voice! Can you listen to it?”
“I have been listening to it ever since we left Amara. Yes, it is a different voice, but we must obey it as we obeyed the voice of the desert. Don’t you feel that?”
“If I do it is because you tell me to feel it; you tell me that I must feel it.”
His words seemed to hurt her. An expression of pain came into her face.
“Boris,” she said, “don’t make me regret too terribly that I ever came into your life. When you speak like that I feel almost as if you were putting me in the place of—of—I feel as if you were depending upon me for everything that you are doing, as if you were letting your own will fall asleep. The desert brings dreams. I know that. But we, you and I, we must not dream any more.”
“A dream, you call it—the life we have lived together, our desert life?”
“Boris, I only mean that we must live strongly now, act strongly now, that we must be brave. I have always felt that there was strength in you.”
“Strength!” he said bitterly.
“Yes. Otherwise I could never have loved you. Don’t ever prove to me that I was utterly wrong. I can bear a great deal. But that—I don’t feel as if I could bear that.”
After a moment he answered:
“I will try to give you nothing more to bear for me.”